Implications of Paul George Breaking His Leg

Last night, Indiana Pacers superstar swingman Paul George gruesomely broke his leg in a Team USA scrimmage, effectively ending his 2014-2015 NBA season. The injury was reminiscent of the broken leg suffered by former Louisville guard Kevin Ware almost a year and a half ago. The injury immediately raised concerns over how close the stanchion was to the baseline and whether this is the tipping point that ultimately ends superstars playing for Team USA.

The only true concern should be for Paul George. Although George’s max extension is just about to kick in at the start of the upcoming season, it’s disheartening to see such a young, talented player come down that sort of injury. It would be awful, regardless of how talented he is. But with the league just getting Derrick Rose back from his heap of injuries, it’s tough to see another one of the league’s most exciting and likable players to go down. The injury will have far reaching implications. Let’s examine them in order of importance:

Paul George
Everyone is hoping and praying that George returns stronger than ever, but that seems unlikely. Yes, George will recover. There’s no exact timetable for his return, but he’ll probably miss next season. Will he regain his explosiveness? No one knows right now. George is only 24 years old and was just starting to enter his prime. Even though the injury is not similar to those suffered by Derrick Rose, the situation seems eerily similar. An extremely young superstar set to be one of LeBron’s rivals loses an entire season due to injury, coming off of a career year. Everyone will be rooting for George to recover from his injury and continue to be a star. Whether he will be return to the league as a top player is uncertain though. We can only hope.  Continue reading

Kevin Durant Should Go to the Wizards, But Not Because It’s Home

What I’m going to say will not be popular. And I will probably be derided as a deluded homer, just rationalizing fake reasons as to why Kevin Durant should sign with the Wizards in two years. But I’ll say it anyway: Kevin Durant should sign with the Wizards in a couple of years, and not because he is from Washington D.C. Of course, that it is home adds to the allure, but plenty of basketball reasons are more responsible for why Durant should come to D.C.

The Wizards will make a strong push to sign the hometown hero Durant.

The Wizards will make a strong push to sign the hometown hero Durant.

Mind you this could all change relatively quickly if the Thunder win a championship this upcoming season. Before explaining why Durant should sign with the Wiz in a few years, let’s first remember how unlikely that is, and how many things would have to go right (or wrong, for Thunder fans) for KD to end up in Washington. With LeBron out of South Beach, the pecking in the NBA looks like this: 1) Spurs, 2) Thunder, 3) Everyone else: Clippers, Warriors, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Blazers, etc. The Thunder may even be 1B, ever so slightly trailing the Spurs. During the regular season, the Thunder were 4-0 against the Spurs, and if not for Serge Ibaka’s injury, the Thunder may have ended up hoisting the Finals trophy instead. Which is all to say, there is a very good chance that the Thunder win the title this season. And if that happens, there is just about a zero percent chance Durant leaves. Just for the sake of argument though, what if Russell Westbrook gets hurt again. Then what? Supremely talented as he is–easily one of the ten best players in the NBA–Westbrook has undergone three knee surgeries already at the tender age of 25. Each time, Westbrook has returned from injury just as effective as before, but how many more blows can he take?  Even if Westbrook does stay healthy, that’s no guarantee that the Thunder are going to win a title. It’s not like Westbrook and Durant are natural fits next to each other. There’s the constant subplot of whether they can coexist, always present just below the surface, adding tension after failed fourth quarters. Continue reading

The Best Offer the Timberwolves Will Receive for Kevin Love

With Andrew Wiggins signing his rookie contract with the Cavaliers four days ago, he is now unable to be traded for 30 days (26 now, as the signing took place four days ago). With that, speculation regarding a possible Kevin Love trade has ramped up in the past few days. There seem to be three teams with a semi-legitimate chance at acquiring Love: the Cavs, who remain the frontrunner, the Warriors, who are hellbent on keeping Klay Thompson, and the Bulls, who are probably the long shot destination for Love.

Trading Kevin Love is not ideal. That much is clear. Love is a superstar and the NBA is a league whose fate hinges on where the superstars play. Basketball–unlike sports like football, baseball, or soccer–is a sport where one player really can make the difference in a team. With only five players on the floor at a time, one player can make a big difference. Basketball is not a sport with teams of twenty players like soccer, or fifty-ish players like football. There are only usually 10-12 guys on an NBA team, eight or nine of which will consistently play. Trading a superstar in the NBA almost never yields equal or even close to equal return. Often, teams trading the superstar will get three quarters on the dollar back, if they’re lucky. Lately in the NBA, when superstars have been traded, it has been for a package of assets, sort of a mystery box. Some young players here, picks there, and maybe some cap space too. The deals have looked like those you see in MLB, where a star player is traded for a handful of prospects. It’s almost always impossible to accurately grade the deal when it’s made. You’ve got to wait and see how good (or bad) the prospects end up being, and that can take years. That is precisely the type of deal the Cavaliers are offering the Timberwolves right now. They’re offering Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, as well as several first round picks for Kevin Love. In other words, their two brightest prospects and future prospects for Love. Continue reading

The Best Player Left in Free Agency Is Delusional

Everyone expected the post-Steve Nash Suns to struggle. Last year, most people safely assumed the Suns would tank to get a top pick and land Wiggins or Parker. Little did anyone know Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe would form one of the league’s best backcourts, and that Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee would be real contributors. The Suns raked in 48 wins though, finishing just a game out of the Western Conference playoffs. The Suns have become one of the more attractive teams in the league, with a good, young nucleus and tons of cap space. But for some reason, they haven’t been able to lure top-tier free agents Phoenix. Aside from the Isaiah Thomas signing, the Suns have remained relatively quiet this offseason.

Their top priority heading into the offseason was to re-sign Eric Bledsoe, the 24-year old point guard, who in his first year as a starter, displayed borderline All-Star ability. Playing behind Chris Paul for the past few years in LA, Bledsoe was unable to show the wide range of his ability. But last year in Phoenix, Bledsoe had a very successful year. The only minor concern regarding Bledsoe was that he needed knee surgery last season. When healthy though, he was very productive, averaging a line of 18-6-5 on a nightly basis. Those are good, but not great numbers, even for a 24 year old.

The Suns offered Bledsoe a 4 year/$48 million deal, a very fair deal, identical to what Kyle Lowry got a few weeks ago. Lowry is definitely a better player at this stage, but Bledsoe is a few years younger. The Suns’ offer for Bledsoe is a bigger deal than what Steph Curry got a few years ago. Of course, it must be noted that Curry had some ankle problems at the time, and that is why the offer wasn’t a max. But still. Bledsoe is not the player Curry is. Continue reading

Why the Timberwolves Should Trade Kevin Love For Andrew Wiggins

It’s understandable that the Timberwolves are reluctant to trade All-Star power forward Kevin Love. He’s only 25 years old and averaged 26 points and nearly 13 rebounds per game, making him the NBA’s third leading scorer and fourth leading rebounder. Love gets killed by the media for having never made the playoffs, but he’s never had a teammate who made the All-Star game. Not even once. Right now, with one year left on Love’s deal–thanks to David Kahn, who decided three years ago to save Minnesota’s max deal for Ricky Rubio–the Timberwolves don’t have much leverage. If the Wolves hold onto Love, he will surely leave the team in free agency in the summer. The only thing Minnesota can really do is try to drive up Love’s price, pitting the Cavaliers and Warriors, who are firm in their refusal to part ways with Klay Thompson, against each other and creating a bidding war.

Even though David Kahn isn’t the Wolves’ GM anymore, it’s still hard to see them making the right decision here. Rumor is that they’re more interested in Thompson than Wiggins because they view Thompson as more ready to help them now. It might just be a rumor, but if it’s true, the Warriors are thinking about this all wrong. They aren’t winning now, period. And they sure aren’t winning with Klay Thompson as their best player. The T’Wolves need to realize that they are not going to win now, but they can still set themselves up very nicely for the future.andrew-wiggins-vertical Continue reading

Cavs Make Right Decision and Are Now Willing To Trade Wiggins For Love

The Cavs have finally stopped lowballing the Timberwolves in their pursuit of Kevin Love. No longer are the Cavs only offering Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett, and a first round picks for Love. The Timberwolves have held out, with the hope of getting Andrew Wiggins in return, and it looks to have paid off. Despite having little leverage, as Love only has a year left on his current deal, the Wolves may get their guy Wiggins. This being after Cavs rookie head coach David Blatt recently shot down the chance of a potential trade involving Wiggins, saying:

“There’s no reason or cause for worry on his part because Andrew’s not going anywhere, as far as I know and as far as the club has expressed”

Apparently the Cavs changed their mind on Wiggins, and then LeBron reached out to Kevin Love on the possibility of playing together. Or maybe, LeBron reached out to Love, and then the Cavs changed their mind. That makes a little more sense. LeBron gets what he wants. His two year deal, with the player option after year one, may be a way of maximizing the money LeBron earns, but it’s also his way of keeping leverage over Dan Gilbert and the Cavs. It’s a way of putting pressure on management to be proactive and improve the team. Continue reading

Shabazz Napier’s Social Media Breakup With LeBron

Remember a couple weeks ago when the Heat selected Shabazz Napier with the 24th pick in the draft to appease LeBron? Shabazz wasn’t going to be the reason that LeBron would stay in Miami, but making the effort to trade up and get Napier would be a small gesture to LeBron. Not a big shiny anniversary ring or anything, but a small little gift as a token of their appreciation for what LeBron had done–just an example of the commitment they had to LeBron and his vision of the team. Pat Riley claimed he was a fan of Napier’s game anyway, and that the move was not purely to appease LeBron:

“I know LeBron tweeted something out in the NCAA [tournament] about him. Why not. If LeBron and I have the same taste in talent, so be it. But he didn’t call me on the phone, or he didn’t make a point to me about it.”

But everyone knew that was BS. Ever since the NCAA tournament, LeBron had been complimenting Napier’s game and ability to run a team. Napier seemed to be profoundly lucky. Not that he wouldn’t have already been selected in the first round of the draft, but to having the best player on the planet so fond of you is definitely good for pro prospects. Continue reading

NBA GMs are Wrong: The Cavs Should Trade Andrew Wiggins For Kevin Love

LeBron made what most people thought was an unforgivable mistake four years ago with how he handled his departure from Cleveland in the hour-long ESPN special, The Decision. It seemed unlikely that’d he ever return to play for his hometown. But he did.

And now that LeBron has returned to Cleveland, the biggest storyline of the NBA offseason will be whether Cleveland adds Kevin Love to the mix before the season starts. The Cavs would love to acquire Love, as long as they don’t have to part with last month’s top overall pick Andrew Wiggins. That’s where things get complicated. Minnesota is reluctant to deal the 25 year old Love, who averaged 26 points and over 12 rebounds per game last season. Even though Love only has one year left on his deal and is unlikely to re-sign with Minnesota in the offseason, the T’Wolves are still hesitant to ship off Love, unless they get a major haul in return. The hardest thing to do in the NBA, especially for a small-market team like Minnesota, is to land a superstar. And the easiest thing to do in the NBA, especially for small-market teams, is to trade away a disgruntled superstar for 75 cents on the dollar. That is precisely what Minnesota wants to avoid.

In a way, the T’Wolves have all the leverage. They know how badly the Cavs want Love. Yet, the Wolves also have zero leverage: everyone in the league knows that Love will be a free agent next summer, and has no interest in staying in Minnesota. Continue reading

Daryl Morey Keeps It Real, Offends Chandler Parsons

Most hardcore NBA fans know about Daryl Morey. The Rockets GM who is obsessed with advanced stats, who makes front office decisions like a fantasy football owner. He’s always looking to make another trade that will set the team up better in the long haul, or sign an unknown player that can contribute right away. Many fans and analysts call Morey a genius, but also think he’s too smart for his own good sometimes.

Houston will miss Parsons, but they had maxed out with him as their third banana.

Houston will miss Parsons, but they had maxed out with him as their third banana.

Recently, he had the plan of signing Chris Bosh once LeBron left Miami, and then quickly matching Dallas’ offer sheet for Chandler Parsons. Thus giving the Rockets a core of Beverly-Harden-Parsons-Bosh-Howard. Good luck finding a nucleus more talented than that. Once LeBron signed with Cleveland, it seemed like a sure bet that Houston would almost instantly transform itself into a top three team in the league. But the plan quickly blew up in Morey’s face. Bosh signed a max deal with the Heat. And then surprisingly, Morey decided to let Parsons go.

Morey didn’t think Parsons is a star, and according to Morey, once the Rockets missed out on Bosh, it was just not worth paying Parsons over $15 million per season. A trio of Howard-Harden-Parsons could not win a title, in Morey’s estimation. As Morey told SportsRadio610: Continue reading

Wizards Choose Unlikely Replacement For Trevor Ariza, Eye On Durant In Future

Coming off of a surprisingly successful second round exit in the playoffs, the Wizards had two players to re-sign: Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza. Having both guys be right in the middle of their prime and coming off of career years, it was predictable that they would get huge contracts in free agency. Most Wizards fans were a little queasy at the idea of re-signing, and likely having to overpay Gortat and Ariza, just to remain a good, but not great team.

They completed the first part, giving Gortat a huge payday, what he called “the best day of my life.” The deal for Gortat, worth $60 million over the next five seasons, seems like an overpay, especially on the back end, but was probably necessary to keep Gortat. Good centers are scarce in the NBA, and Gortat averaged a double-double last season. But, the real question mark was Ariza. Would he really get paid? And by paid I mean PAID. Don’t get me wrong: Ariza had a very good season last year. He was Washington’s best perimeter defender and shot 41% from 3, the best clip of his career from deep. But really, he’s just a catch-and-shoot corner 3 shooter. He benefitted from John Wall’s career year more than just about anyone else on the Wizards’ roster. He was the guy who got the open looks in the corner, off of Wall’s drive-n-kick dishes. That’s no fault of his, but it is to say that Ariza’s offensive production was largely the result of an All-Star point guard who created open shots for everyone else. He’s the type of player that can be replaced. He’s the ultimate ‘3 and D’ guy: he hits 3’s and plays good defense. Those are the kind of players you can find in free agency for cheap.

Ariza was a big piece of the Wizards' success last year, but he is replaceable.

Ariza was a big piece of the Wizards’ success last year, but he is replaceable.

Continue reading